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Chez Vito Butcher Luca Magistrale Chews the Fat

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Mile End meat maven

Chez Vito

Name: Luca Magistrale

Age: 42

Occupation: Owner and butcher at Boucherie Chez Vito

Story: Boucherie Chez Vito is a staple in Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood, and has been providing Montrealers with beautiful cuts of meat along with an array of carefully selected products and its complementary 'special' coffees for 30 years. Although the business was started by Vito Magistrale, still a constant figure behind the counter, his son Luca, along with brother Tino, are carrying on the family tradition.

With the advantage of his father running the store, Magistrale got a chance to learn the ropes from an early age. "I didn't like school and my Dad didn't want me staying home, so whenever I could, I would go to the store," explains Magistrale. "I was 12 years old and I found it very interesting. I liked working with the public and I loved watching my dad working with meat. The big knives weren't so bad either." As the years went by, Luca liked it more and more until he just started working there full-time. Magistrale never went to school, or apprenticed anywhere else to learn the trade — he was taught everything from his father.

Philosophy: "I believe in freshness and perfection," says Magistrale. "I personally choose all the meat products and prepare everything you see here. If it doesn't look good or fresh, I don't sell it."

Boucherie Chez Vito's Specialty: Its all-natural, homemade sausages are definitely a customer favourite and range from pork, lamb, veal, chicken and porcini mushroom. Another Vito staple are its pre-marinated bavettes and hanger steaks. If you've never tried them, finish reading this article and then go get one.

Cooking Tips: "Before cooking any piece of meat you should take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature," Magistrale states. "It ensures even cooking for a better result. Also, meat needs to rest before you serve it."

Cooking Tools: "Invest in a good meat thermometer, it's one of the best tools in the kitchen," says Magistrale.

Knife: "As long as it cuts and it's sharp," laughs Magistrale. "It's not the knife that makes you know what you're doing!"

Favourite Cut of Meat: Hanger steak.

Best Way to Cook it: Cast iron pan fry.

Favourite Place to Eat Meat in Montreal: Magistrale smiles. "At home."

Chez Vito

5180 rue Saint-Urbain, Montreal, Quebec H2T 2W7 (514) 277-1981